Interior Health is defunding Pathways Addictions Resource Centre in Penticton on May 31, but it’s not closing any bed-based substance use services in the region.
A comment made by an Interior Health official about residential treatment not being the best course of action for addiction care caused a flurry of concern and stress from people involved in residential treatment both at the patient and management level.
Pathways executive director Daryl Meyers said their counselling services have sent many people to treatment with successful results for over 20 years for Interior Health (IH). She added that people are concerned that residential treatment across IH would not receive future funding if the belief is that residential treatment is not effective.
The comment even prompted a petition signed by more than 2,500 people claiming how important residential treatment is to keep people out of addictions.
It also prompted letters from people who have been saved by residential treatment, including a young Indigenous woman who is no longer living on the streets of the Downtown Eastside after a recovery bed helped her get off drugs.
IH responded to a concerns about substance use treatment options in Penticton with the following letter:
“Interior Health’s position is that inpatient treatment services are an important part of the overall continuum of care for people living with substance use.
Interior Health recognizes every person’s experience of addiction and recovery is unique, and we offer and support a range of evidence-based treatment approaches tailored to an individual’s specific needs, and this certainly may include inpatient treatment options.
Interior Health recognizes the importance of inpatient, bed-based substance use services where clients receive treatment at a facility with around-the-clock, specialized care and support,” said Interior Health in a statement to Western News.
Recent media stories have raised specific questions from people who are concerned that the number of available treatment beds provided through Interior Health is being reduced in the South Okanagan. We can assure the community that this is not true: IH has not closed bed-based substance use services.”
Pathways is not residential treatment.
“The province is working to improve access to [residential treatment services,]” stated IH.
According to the health authority, the B.C. government has invested in more than 100 new beds for adults, 27 of which are in the Interior region. The government will fund 195 new substance use treatment and recovery beds in communities across the province sometime in the future.
If someone wants to continue using, IH can provide harm reduction that includes providing free needles, drug testing. IH also provides opioid therapies, including sublaxone or methadone.
To find bed-based substance use services, individuals can speak with their health care provider, or call the IH mental health and substance use intake number, which is 310-MHSU (6478).
As far as wait times across the region, IH claimed it varies depending on the type of inpatient service someone needs.
“We focus community support through measures such as; counselling, day treatment programs, medication, etc., while people wait,” stated the health authority.
Additionally, residents of the Interior region continue to have access to beds in other parts of B.C. and IH refers clients to those services when their needs cannot be met within IH.
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